WHY WE DESPERATELY NEED A MOON-SIGHTING SOLUTION IN KENYA

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Everything about Ramadhan in Kenya is beautiful except one thing: moon sighting. It is confusing and even more annoying how we allow it to cause divisions between us. Year in year out we have heard the SAME.ISSUES over and over again.
1. Someone sighted the moon but the kadhi’s phone was off
2. People sending pictures of the moon on their first day of fasting and saying that it is thicker than ‘yesterday’as a proof that it is indeed the first day
3. The kadhi is just following the government dates with the name ‘chief kazi’
4. The moon has been sighted in areas in Kenya but the kadhi wouldn’t agree to it.

This has been the same theory every beginning and end of Ramadhan. I am not about to take sides because I am among the people who are very saddened by these misunderstandings of sharia. I also want to eagerly learn shariah and a student of deen listens and not mocks.

My teachers in deen, majority of them follow the moon seen anywhere in the world. Yet whenever they taught about this issue they made it clear that although they follow the world, there are fatawas of different ulamaas all over the world including Ibn Uthaymeen who agreed that each country should follow their own moon. This includes the lajna (council) of Suudiya which also gave their fatwa that each country should follow their own country and not specifically follow them. As such we became a world divided thrice when it comes to moon sighting:
Those who follow the kadhi i.e. their own countries
Those who follow Suudiya
Those who follow the whole world
Of which the first and the third ideologies are the strongest since following Suudiya alone has been declared wrong by the sheikhs of there already.

Nonetheless it is very clear that this issue won’t be resolved anytime soon or ever at all. All we have to do is respect our different views but it would have been better if we had very serious moon sighting procedures. Those who claim to have called the kadhi every year and never find him, we need to really find out how that happens. How true is it? Perhaps we should have a lajna too such that other respectable people together alongside the regional kadhis and the chief kadhi can be contacted and not specifically him alone.

When it comes to sending photos of the moon after the end of the first day, when the moon was ‘seen’ the previous day where were all those smart phones and nikon cameras? Alhamdulilah Allah has blessed us with technology, if the Kadhi is not picking the phone then why not take the photos and show the proof on that same day instead of the next day?

To add on that the prophet peace be upon him never asked us to check the thickness of the moon but the sight of it. Be it here or anywhere else that you follow please do understand that the thickness of the moon can never be used as a justification that the moon has been seen. The moon is one the entire world but it is seen in some places and that is the hikma of Allah that some places the moon is covered by the clouds and unseen. Plus there are longitudinal differences for example We and Suudiya have the same time based on the longitudes but our prayer timings are different (based on lunar calendar). Even a closer example is how we in Mombasa can pray 10/15 minutes before Nairobi and when we go further on the longitude the later they pray than us. So the problem here is that we haven’t understood the lunar calendar and learnt its details and the hikmah of it. Imagine people in Europe who are fasting in summer it comes up to 18/19 hours of fasting. When Ramadhan falls on winter they fast for about 6 hours. So Ramadhan keeps rotating and they get to fast longer and shorter hours every year. That is the hikmah of Allah. Imagine if Ramadhan followed the solar calendar, it would be fixed seasons such that some fasted permanently on longer hours than others and some would not be able to fast at all. What about the North and South pole? They have 6 months of sunshine how would they be fasting continuously if it was based on solar timings? How unfair would that be?

So from that the hadith didn’t say about how big the moon is but fasting according to the sight of it.

Again what one of my teachers of deen said of how he used to follow the kadhi yet he changed to following the entire world after his further studies in Shariah. And every other sheikh has their own reasons for following whichever country they do but one thing they keep saying is that we shouldn’t fight in this holy month because of that. The kadhi does not make his decisions alone. This is a huge responsibility on his shoulders and it won’t be easy to just make reckless decisions as many assume. And whatever his decisions he very well knows that he takes full responsibility of the ummah. He is someone’s parent, brother and son so let’s stop abusing him.

What we desperately need right now is the ulamaas in Kenya to have a conference and come with a serious solution on how moon sighting should take place such that the Kenyans themselves can be satisfied with the procedures. This would involve the different regional kadhis as well and the scholars amongst us. Perhaps they should have more trusted people allocated in the interior areas as informants of the moon. I really dream of something like this to happen. How wonderful would it be if fatwas were given and we are all able to fast and break it together. We should borrow a leaf from Abu dhabi who used to follow Suudiya previously yet this time they decided to form their own council consisting of sheikhs and scholars of astronomy to record the sighting of the moon in their own area including the interior parts. Yesterday it wasn’t until 8 p.m after they confirmed that it has been sighted in their area is when they announced the beginning of Ramadhan.

The prophet peace be upon him said that divisions will be among the signs of qiyamah…so yes, they were bound to happen whether we want it or not. Let us just pray that Allah guides us into making the right decisions and forgiving us for taking wrong steps. For most of us who are arguing about it are not even in the least bit knowledgeable in matters of deen or even understand geography. Follow whichever country or sheikh you want but don’t get abusive. The arguments are becoming too lame now. Nothing new to talk about; same old claims always. No one is being threatened with a gun to follow anyone. Let us start the Ramadhan peacefully and end it in the same way in shaa Allah. Moon sighting should not be moon fighting. We are one people. Such differences should not be a reason for non Muslims to laugh or mock us for it. May Allah easen for us and grant us the ability to do lots of ibadah and have the knowledge of deen. May He accept our deeds and forgive us our misdeeds. Ameen.

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A freelance writer, journalist, poet and blogger venturing mainly in social and community issues, study and analysis of behaviour and life, and the plight of the under-dogs in the society. 'I feed on human stories.'

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